Thursday, February 17, 2011

Side project.

When I sold my mountain bike in 2007, I knew it wasn't the end of that side of my cycling life but merely a long pause.  I knew I'd once again sweep down a dense eastern forest slope in humidity thicker than Duke's mayonnaise.  Though the reason for selling the old Trek hardtail was beyond noble (I needed to buy a certain special lady a very shiny piece of jewelry), I had faith that it wasn't the last I'd see of the knobby-treaded world.

Fast-forward to 2011.  Coach and I are expecting our first child, and as we prepare for (and look forward to) a massive shift in priorities we are also taking time to enjoy our last months as a couple without children.  Clearly, planning for and getting to the Tour of the Battenkill is important to us, as is taking time for walks, visiting family and friends, and sleeping in.

It was also important for us to do a few things for ourselves that we might not be able to do for quite a while.  This was on the advice of nearly all of our friends with kids.  When it came time for me to consider what 'thing' I might like prior to the real present we're both hoping to receive later this year, it was a no-brainer. 

A mountain bike.

Though I am a tried and true roadie now, my roots are in mountain biking.  Thanks to a high school friend who worked at a local bike shop, I got my first real adult-style mountain bike before heading off to college.  A Giant ATX 860.  It had a crummy RST suspension fork (which I thought was the COOLEST thing ever) and though it was aluminum, it probably weighed 30 pounds.  I took it off to college at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and the rest was history.  My friends and I, all haphazard mountian bikers, had countless death-defying moments in the hills above Boone.  More than once we returned to the dorms with scrapes and cuts, plus smashed equipment and muddy faces.  The guys at Magic Cycles loved to see us coming, as they knew we'd probably broken something and would be spending some green in their shop.  I raced at Tsali in an event called the Knobscorcher, landing 3rd place in the First-Timer category! I kept that t-shirt for 10 years.

After transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill, my Giant was stolen.  Yep, nabbed from the bike rack in front of the dorm.  I was able to pull together enough scratch to get a new hardtail, a Trek 9700 that would be my only bike until 2004 when I bought my first road-worthy machine.  The 9700 was fantastic:  light, stiff, noisy (a chain slapping a carbon chainstay is not subtle in the woods) and bright blue.  I eventually upgraded nearly every component.  Actually, I can say that no component was left untouched over its lifespan, except for the seatpost. 

Some guy in Chicago won the auction on eBay, and I think I got about half of what I paid for it in 1997, not accounting for the mucho dinero in upgrades over the years.  So when it was time to get back to the dirt, I landed on a Trek again - a 26" wheel aluminum hardtail.  It may seem retro in these days of 29ers and full-suspension, but in a way, I wanted to go back again instead of going forward.  Does that make sense?

With the road season looming over me now (first road race this weekend in SC), I am already looking forward to the change of pace that mountain biking can bring.  With a little one on the way as well, I do feel some drive to stay a little farther away from passing cars.  It is true that I've had more frightening moments on mountain bikes than road bikes, but nevermind that...

All eyes are on the Battenkill for now, but you just never know where this blog will go after that fateful April day.


bicycle spaniard said...

Congratulations on the newest toy. Ride on, you crazy diamond.

Erich said...

Thanks spaniard. Also, I would like to reiterate that your blogspot pic looks like a grand tour stage win.

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